From The Washington Post:
To her 1960s biographers, she was “the fastest nun in the West.” To Italians, she is “the nun with spurs.”
Now, some Catholics hope to be able to call Sister Blandina Segale “saint.”
The case for canonizing the 19th century Italian-born nun, whose run-in with Old West outlaw Billy the Kid is the stuff of legend, was presented at a ceremonial “first inquiry” in Albuquerque on Tuesday. If approved, her name will be sent to the Vatican, where it will head down the long (and somewhat secretive) path toward sainthood.
For Segale’s admirers, the inquiry was an opportunity to look back at her colorful career in the frontier towns of Colorado and New Mexico, where she advocated for better treatment of Native Americans, fought the trafficking of women as sex slaves and occasionally tangled with the marauding men who made the West “wild.”
One of these “marauding men” that Sister Blandina took on was the notorious and dangerous Billie the Kid.
Nearly four years into her time in Trinidad, Segale had her famous encounter with “Billy the Kid” — who, at 17, was already the leader of a gang with a price on his head. A few days before, she had heard about a young man who had been shot by a fellow gang member and left to die in an adobe hut. Segale wrote that she found the man and nursed him back to health, and he warned her that Billy and his band would be arriving at 2 p.m. that Saturday to scalp the doctors who had refused to treat him.
“Do you believe that with this knowledge I’m going to keep still?” Segale demanded, according to her journal.
He didn’t. “What are you going to do about it?” the man asked.
“Meet your gang at 2 p.m. this Saturday.”
She followed through on her promise. When Billy — whom Segale described as peach-complexioned and innocent-seeming, except for a steely look in his eyes that “tell a set purpose, good or bad” — asked how he could repay the nun’s care for his friend, she asked that he “cancel” his plans to scalp the town’s doctors.
According to Segale, Billy looked down at his injured friend, who replied “She is game.” Then the outlaw and the nun shook hands.
Read more about the life and work of Sister Blandina Segale at The Washington Post.